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Social Equity

Building Toward a Brighter Future For San Diego Women

This is an independent opinion. Have one of your own? Email it to [email protected]

The COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing recession have forced Californians and San Diegans to grapple with a new reality. Daily ways of life – sending kids off to school, being able to safely go to work, and seeing and caring for aging family members – all looks very different these days.

All this change also brings opportunities to make choices about how we govern our schools, create better access to health, housing, and child care, who we elect to represent us at City Hall and in Sacramento, and how we raise revenue to better support our communities. We are coming together to make these decisions on our ballots ahead of the Nov. 3 election.

As we make these important decisions, we must keep in mind that California women – and especially Latinx and Native American women – continue to face significant barriers to prosperity due to the legacy of sexism and racism embedded in our local, state, and federal policies.

When women thrive, our families and communities prosper. Yet despite decades of progress in job opportunities, earnings, and political leadership, women – including women living in San Diego County – still face persistent barriers to accessing economic security, physical and mental health care, and representation in elected positions that greatly improve their lives and the well-being of their families and communities.

A new resource from the California Budget & Policy Center shows that San Diego County has work ahead to improve the well-being of women who call this community home.

The data show an impossible reality for working mothers who are trying to provide a safe home for themselves and their families and access quality child care for their children.

According to findings in the California Women’s Well-Being Index, more than 1 in 3 women in San Diego County earn low wages (37.5%). The typical rent in San Diego County is 39.6% of women’s median annual earnings. And the annual cost of child care for two children totals 66.5% of single mothers’ median income in San Diego County.

Proper nutrition, medical care, and prenatal care should be available for all women in California, yet in addition to the impossible economic realities women face, San Diego County women face barriers to these basic needs that promote good health and well-being.

The Budget Center’s Index found that nearly a quarter (23%) of women in San Diego County either delayed getting or did not get prescriptions or medical care, even before the pandemic. One in 4 women in San Diego County did not receive adequate prenatal care (25.2%). And 42.4% of low- and moderate-income women in San Diego County face food insecurity, meaning that they are not able to afford enough food to eat.

And COVID-19 has only worsened the economic conditions for women. As millions of Californians have lost jobs and income, cannot safely return to work, do not have access to child care, and are supporting children in distance learning, it’s clear that women are facing the brunt of the economic crisis. A recent report by the Budget Center found at the worst point of the recession so far, 1 in 4 women were out of work and the unemployment rate reached 20% or more for Asian, Black, Latinx and other Californians of color.

We know that sexist and racist policies are hurting California women — even with statewide policy advances in recent years such as expanded paid family leave and funding for child care that are particularly important for women. The data and information in the Budget Center’s new Index by race, ethnicity, county, and our own stories show that lacking access to quality health care and child care, not having financial resources to turn to in crisis, and still being kept out of decision-making at many levels of government means women are not receiving the support and investment we need to thrive in California.

The good news? We can work together to create a California where women thrive and our communities can prosper. Reliable data sources and women leaders can guide our decision-making to build a California where everyone – including women – can share in our state’s prosperity.

What is this story missing? Let us know. >>What is this story missing? Let us know. >>

About the Author

Kristin Schumacher

Kristin Schumacher is creator of the California Women’s Well-Being Index and senior policy analyst with the California Budget & Policy Center.

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